Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a week!

When we were in the MTC the brethren announced that interviews would no longer be every six weeks, but would happen quarterly. All 114 new mission presidents nodded dutifully and wrote it down. The brethren paused and then said, "If you were sitting mission presidents you would have all stood up and let out a whaa hooo!" Well, after completing our first full week of interviews I think we finally fully appreciate exactly what they were referring too!
We got up early Monday morning and left our house at 7:00 for Selah, about 1 1/2 hours away. We opened with a song and a prayer with the Selah zone, then after a few words of instruction from Len, proceeded to interview 19 missionaries. At about 10-15 minutes per elder and a little longer for the sisters--you do the math! We were there for five hours with no break! We stopped for lunch at 2:30, drove home and flopped on the couch. I was asleep in 2 minutes. I couldn't believe that sitting could be so exhausting. We packed our suitcases and prepared for the week. Tues. we headed to Yakima and after another long day of interviews drove to Vancouver. We interviewed two zones on Wed., another very large zone with 24 missionaries on Thursday, another Vancouver zone Friday morning then traveled 2 hours to The Dalles in Oregon. We began with The Dalles zone at 2:30 and finished after 6:30. Oh, did I mention the nutritious lunch of Cheetos and soda while driving? We finally grabbed a burger around 7:00 and returned home at 9:30. We were totally spent. The real kicker is that we're not finished! We have four more zones this next week. I don't know how the Belnaps did this every six weeks. Now we understand why the Brethren were amused by our nonresponse of their announcement.
But I have to say, that these interviews are the best thing we've done. We get to talk to them one on one and really get to know them albeit for only a few minutes. They are wonderful, awesome and amazing. The stories they have to tell would fill a book and you would need a box of tissues because of their sweet spirits, miraculous conversions, and inspiring moments. They are our fabulous sons and daughters of Helaman who strive to obey with exactness and fulfill their purpose to invite others to Come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. We truly love them.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

First Baptisms

We had the privilege of attending two baptismal services on Saturday. The first was in Pendleton, Oregon, about an hour and 20 min. away. He was a young man named Amos who was baptized by E. Conover. His father and sister attended as well as two other nonmembers--way to go missionaries!! Len mentioned to E. Conover the day before that we might be able to attend. Imagine our surprise when there were THREE sets of missionaries waiting to see us at the baptism. Of course they all had investigators, but it was a sweet surprise to see them all there. When Len was giving his brief remarks at the conclusion of the baptism saying that the ordinance was powerful, Amos' father exclaimed out loud and nodding his head, "That's right!" Hopefully we'll be down there again for another baptism soon!

The other baptism was in the evening in Walla, Walla another hour and 20 away. This was the Diaz family. A father, mother, and adult son. E. Gamett excitedly mentioned to Len in his weekly letter how excited they were for this family to enter the waters of baptism so we decided to attend. Of course the elders neglected to inform us that the entire service was going to be in Spanish! It was very interesting to have them interpret for us and to sing all the hymns in Spanish. I was very happy that I at least had a semester of Spanish in college and didn't totally butcher the words of the hymns--well I kindof butchered them. There was a beautiful Spirit with the entire Spanish ward in attendance. A beautiful hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee" was arranged and accompanied by E. Gamett and sung by two elders and members of the bishopric. It was just lovely--very touching. After the service Sister Maria Diaz bore the sweetest testimony in part English and part Spanish. What a powerfully sweet lady. I was very touched and humbled by her spirit and her remarks. It was a great day!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Old/New Missionaries!

This is our first group of outgoing missionaries. Even thought we've only been here two weeks, we were able to attend a temple session with each one and have them for breakfast the morning they left. These are amazing missionaries who worked hard serving in their areas. We will always remember them. From bottom to top is: S. Hawks, E. Johnson, E. Millar, E. Wilberg, E. Fitu (lounging on the rest of the group!) E. Beardall, E. Malan, E. Dennis, E. Angell, E. Fewkes, and E. Terry. We love you! Work hard on your next mission!
Our 16 newest missionaries arrived on July 13! They have an amazing energy and spirit. This is the traditional picture on the front stairs of our home started by the Belnaps. We plan to continue with their tradition. Our new missionaries are, from bottom to top: S. Rico, E. Crabtree, E. Liskey, E. Bejarano, E. Hoskin, E. Havens, E. Thompson, E. Hardy, E. Pixton, E. Courtnay, E. Rummler, E. Johnson, E. Williams, E. Webb, E. Boothe, and E. Crowther.
Elder Boothe is about 6' 4''. His trainer is Elder Duke who is about 6' 5''. We call them the twin towers and told them not to intimidate anyone on door approaches.
We fed these missionaries lunch and dinner. They ate a ton! But they were very polite and all said, "Thank you Sister Greer, this is SO much better than the MTC!" I'll take whatever compliments I can get.
We love our missionaries! They keep us young and happy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tender Mercies

This has been an unbelievable experience. Extremely busy and exhausting, but I see the hand of the Lord our lives every day and wanted to record some of the tender mercies we have experienced.
1)Saturday evening we were very tired after our trip to Vancouver. Len told me we needed to get up early and travel about an hour away to go to church in Grandview. It was a very small ward of about 70 people. They were so excited that we made the effort to visit their ward. Len was able to meet with two of our missionaries and then we went another hour north on our way to Selah to visit another ward and two other missionaries. Today in a letter from our missionary serving in Grandview ward, the elder expressed how touched the people were by our visit and how our visit had opened doors for him and for the work progress in that area. I couldn't believe that such a small thing would make any difference. I am thankful that Len listened to promptings and that we could see the hand of the Lord in this work.
2) Today we experienced our first real transfer. We met at the transfer site with enthusiasm and a little trepidation. How were all these elders going to get in the right van with their luggage and get to the right place? It was a mass of confused organization. Len started humming, "pack up the babies and grab the old ladies and everyone goes, everyone knows 'bout Brother Love's show! Hallelujah!" We laughed until we about cried. Right after we had a prayer pleading that all these missionaries got to their assigned areas, E. Zimmer (office) told E. Austin (assistant) that he moved the spare tire and the jack from the very back of the trailer full of luggage, bikes and beds to the front just in case there was a flat. E. Austin shrugged and set off for the five hour trip with a van packed full of new missionaries. At exactly the half-way point, they got a flat tire!! Luckily, there were not on the freeway, and fortunately they were able to access the spare tire easily and make the change quickly. The Lord watches out for His missionaries.
3) On Sunday, after a very full week, Len came down with a nasty cold and cough. I'm certain it's because he has shaken everyone's hand who lives in the southern part of WA! On Monday he was worse. I was worried because on Tuesday we had a very full day with 11 missionaries departing and 16 arriving. I didn't know how Len would be able to accomplish everything we had planned plus interview all the new missionaries and assign them their trainers. I prayed so hard that he would be healed. I didn't know it, but Len also prayed and asked to be healed. He woke up Tuesday morning and the cough was gone. He interviewed everyone, gave his welcome speech, laughed and enjoyed the missionaries and never once coughed! We both commented on the miracle we had witnessed. As we began our scripture reading before we went to bed that night, the cough started to come back again. Today he's coughing a little and although I'm sure he's now on the mend, yesterday no one heard even a little hiccup.
We have been blessed with added strength and energy. I cannot describe it. If you would have told me I would feed 13 for breakfast, 25 for lunch and 25 for dinner and not be falling over--I wouldn't have believed you. The missionaries are energizing! When we're around them, we're not tired. The Lord has blessed our bodies to be able to endure this rigorous schedule. It is truly a tender mercy and a miracle. We love this work, we love our missionaries, and we love our supportive and wonderful family.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Portland Temple

Elder Malan, Elder Angell (from Glendale, AZ), Elder Johnson, Elder Terry and Elder Wilberg

Our first visit to the Portland temple was with five of our missionaries who are going home next Tues. The temple is beautiful and has a lovely atrium located inside the foyer so pictures are allowed inside. We are in the atrium located inside the temple. pretty cool, huh!

Our first ZLC (Zone Leader Council)

Our amazing zone leaders! These are tremendous, hardworking dedicated young men. We love them and are so impressed by their goodness.
The ever hard working assistants!
Elder Kelly from our home stake!
Elder Black, Elder Collier and Elder Sanders.
Elder Smith, Elder Collier (again) and Elder Sanders (again).
Elder Petersen, Elder Fangupo, Elder Prawitt, and Elder Seymore
Elder Garret, Elder Brewer, and our recently called, NEW Assistant! We love Elder Baker!
Elders Lemperle, Anderson, Black, Wilcken, Reynolds, and Smith.
Elder Burgin, Elder Hortin, Elder Kelly and Elder Johnson
Back: Elder Sanders, Elder Becerra, Elder Montoya. Front: Elder Tolman, Elder Linstrom
Elder Denny, Elder Killian, Elder Jenkins, Elder Morse

We had a great experience at our first ZLC. There were about 40 young men there. They ate fifteen pizzas, two watermelons, two costco size cartons of grapes, four costco cartons of cookies, some redvines and two cases of water!

Our first new missionary/our assistants

Our first new missionary! Elder Gudjenov just returned to us from having knee surgery and is ready to start anew. He was born in Bulgaria and his family came to the US in 1996 after much persecution from joining the church. They have an amazing story and he is a wonderful young missionary and is eager to serve. We love him!
Our amazing assistants! I can't tell you how wonderful they've been to us. We would absolutely die without them. It will be a very sad day when they leave us. We've already grown extremely attached to them. Elder Austin from Preston, Idaho is on the left and returns home in August and Elder Lavin from Riverton, Utah is on the right and will be with us until Oct. We love these young men! We want to extend their missions for 36 more months!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Here They Are--All of our missionaries!!

The Vancouver West Zone! Lots of Spanish speakers here. Two Hermanas on the left.
The Tri Cities West Zone! These are the missionaries who serve in our ward and stake.
The Pasco Zone! Sister Hawkes on the very left went to HHS and I knew her there. Small world!
The Dalles Zone! Right in the middle of the mission on the Columbia River. The Dalles means the shallows and the river was very shallow there before they added the dam.
The Walla Walla Zone! Elder Conover is great friends with the Ipsens so he loved me instantly! Can you tell?

The Hermiston Zone! Elder Kelly over my left shoulder is from our stake in Gilbert. Elder Cunningham, to his left and behind E. Fitu was in my class at HHS when he was a freshmen.
The Yakima Zone! Elder Blomquist--two over from Dad is from Mesa and knows the Ipsens also!
The Longview Zone! This is the most west zone in the mission--almost to the ocean, but not quite!
The Vancouver North Zone!
The Vancouver South Zone!
The Selah Zone! Up North in the Yakima valley. Lots of sisters!!
The Kennewick East Zone! Right in our back yard.

Aren't they darling? I just love them. The Assistants tell me I'm not allowed to call the elders darling anymore, but they're really cute and sweet and want to please. We lose 11 missionaries next Tuesday, but we gain fifteen new ones!

Love you all!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Belnaps!

Our fabulous office staff!! They are the best. We couldn't do anything without them--they lead us by the hand and are very patient. L-R Elder Bartholemew-recorder, Elder Zimmer-secretary, AP Elder Austin , Sister Beutler-office manager/finances, Elder Beutler-cars, AP Elder Lavin. They're the best.
The wonderful Belnaps--Paul and Elizabeth.
Saying goodbye at the mission office. Elizabeth and I are both crying, but for different reasons!
Elizabeth and Julie bonding in front of our staircase. She's a lovely lady who will be greatly missed.
The two Presidents!! The outgoing and the incoming. They are so similar they're like brothers from a different mother.
They have been so wonderful to us! We love them.

MTC last days

The Arizona people! We loved to have lunch together and visit on breaks. Turks to Peru and Gulbransons to Argentina. See you in three years!
The three new Washington mission presidents. Greers to Kennewick, Larkins to Seattle, and Wilsons to Everett. We all had the same classes and got to know each other well.
Brian Fleming-my former Highland student who Dad set apart to be a missionary. Now returned and working in catering at the MTC.
Two Taylor cousins I met at the MTC. President Taylor and President Dorius. We're all related to John Taylor. He's our Great, Great, Grandfather.

The MTC was wonderful and tiring. Elder Holland, in his closing remarks, said that we all looked simply ashen when we reported on Wednesday. Now that we've gone through four days of intense training, he said we looked hysterical. I think he's right! On to Kennewick!!